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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Visiting with Comedian, Author, Brian T. Shirley and His Books, Make Love Not Warts, and Four Score and Seven Beers Ago

My name is Brian T Shirley. I've been a stand-up comedian for nearly twenty years. I've written jokes, words of wisdom, short stories, and sketch comedy since I was about 14. I had a column in my high school newspaper for two years. I wrote sketches for x-Xmas parties and squad functions when I was in the Air force. I started writing and performing stand up in a comedy workshop in Charleston, SC  in the early 1990's. Since then not only have I written and continue to write my own show material, I also received writing credit for an independent movie called " After Hours", I've helped and received credit for helping other comedians write, I've published two comedy books and I have several short stories on my web site of which some will be part of an online publication with several other authors. 

I love writing comedy. I've always had a knack for making people laugh and it has always begun with writing for me. I also love to perform comedy, but the act would not be truly mine without my weird sense of humor, which is where the writing comes into play. When I write a story, joke, proverb, poem or sketch and hand it to someone to read, seeing them laugh is the best feeling on earth. Writing comedy is always a challenge because you don't know if it works until you perform it or see someone read it. 

I'm not sure if I chose comedy or it chose me. It just fits so well with the way I think, it's the most natural thing in the world. Having said that, it still can be the hardest thing in the world too. 

What books, stories do you have published? 
 I have two comedy books out there. Make Love Not Warts, and Four Score and Seven Beers Ago.  Both books are a series of old proverbs I've taken and twisted around. They also contain original sayings I've come up with along with some insults.  

The second book is different in that it contains some popular song titles turned into comedic sentences and it has a small poem at the end. Both books are available for e book downloads and at, and Readers may also go to my web site for a signed copy at http;// I have several short stories that will soon be in an online publication along with several different authors. The stories are about real life events I gone through both in and outside the world of comedy.  

What is your favorite thing about the books? 

I like the fact that people will not read the books just once. They can read them once, then come back again and again to laugh at their favorite lines. 

I like writing comedy because I love to make people laugh. I think it differs from other genres in that comedy doesn't spark an emotion such as fear, sadness or love. It has an almost physical reaction in that you make a person smile, laugh, or maybe even move around if they laugh hard enough.

Why and when did you begin writing?

I began writing comedy in my early teens. I also tried to write sci/fi and horror, but comedy seemed to be more natural for me. I love to see someone reading and laughing at something I wrote, that is the big WHY behind why I write. 

What is your writing schedule? 

I don't have a set schedule, which is not a good thing. I travel a lot and sometimes, just like now, I'm in and out of hotel rooms several times a week. I write in the car, at there hotel, and at home.

What projects are you working on now or in the future? 
I'm writing the third book in my Make Love Not Warts trilogy. I'm also writing some sketch comedy, which may become a sitcom. I'm always writing and rewriting my show. I may work on a horror novel at some point in the future. 

What tips can you give to others about writing and publishing? 

I always think people should write what they are very passionate about, it's a long process and can be very frustrating. If you are going to write, make sure it's a story you would love to read. Write for yourself first, you can find your readership later. That's how I feel. If you have the time to shop your book around, do it. The bottom line is that if you believe in what you've written, make sure it's published, traditional or otherwise. Also, publishing a book is just the beginning, you still have a lot of work to do. 

What do you do if you are not writing? 

When I'm not writing, I'm performing or getting to the gig. When I'm not on stage, traveling, or writing, I'm doing what I can to promote myself and both books. 

What " Made it' moments have you had in life? 
With performing I've worked with Jimmy"JJ" Walker, Brian Reagan, Tim Wilson and Huey Lewis and the News. I've acted and had writing credits in the same independent movie " After Hours". I've worked at The Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas. My first book,  Make Love Not Warts can be checked out from the library at The Atlantis Resort. I'm really excited that both my books are available worldwide on most major retailor web sites. I'm currently on tour headlining several casinos all throughout the mid west, and I have both books with me. The biggest "Made it" moment I've had is bringing a smile to someone's face! That's always the best! 

You can visit my other blog at: that features a preview to my new book, Traveling a Rocky Road with Love, Faith and Guts.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Debra Borys, Cancer Survivor and Author Shares Her New Book, Painted Black

Debra, tell us a little about yourself and what inspires your writing.

I am a former Chicagoan who spent eight years volunteering with homeless on the streets of both Chicago and Seattle.  In addition to being the author of suspense novel Painted Black, I am a freelance writer and the author of several published short stories.  I am currently working on a second novel in the Jo Sullivan series which reflects the reality of throw away youth striving to survive.
After spending my whole life in small town Illinois, I moved to big, gritty Chicago.   I was drawn there by a need to do something that would make a difference in the world.  A recent battle with cancer and exposure to the struggles of a small church I visited on the south side of the city had given me the courage to move out of my comfort zone.
My years spent volunteering with the homeless has changed my world far more than I probably did theirs. I developed a real appreciation for the people I met there, especially the kids.  They’ve been kicked in the face, cursed and, worst of all, ignored and yet they continue to fight to survive, to thrive.
I live in Seattle now and support myself as a freelance writer.  But I am still channeling the lessons I learned on the streets of Chicago.  I am surrounded here by mountains and ocean and emerald green trees.  But until the human element can find a way to treat themselves and each other with respect and understanding, I still feel a need to try to make a difference in the world.
Tell us about the genre of your work. 
Painted Black is a suspense novel, but because it's so character driven, it doesn't fit neatly into a genre niche.  It's not a mystery in the sense that I start with a crime and the story is about figuring how who did it.  The mystery is actually more figuring out if there has been a crime committed, or rather, which crime?  A street kid is missing and as they try to find her, more suspicious questions crop up that need to be answered also.
Why did you choose this genre?
While I read a wide variety of books myself (my favorite all time author is historical novelist Dorothy Dunnett) mystery/suspense has always been my favorite.  It started with the Bobbsey Twins and Hardy Boy books when I was a kid and continues through Stephen King and Dean Koontz, et al.  My favorite authors always have a certain something that makes them rise above the genre, however.  Straight whodunnit's were never as interesting to me as something that got me into the mind of the character as much or more than the actual plotline.
What are some of your books, stories that have been published?
Painted Black is my first published novel, but I have had several short stories published in print and online publications.  One of them, Red Light, Green Light, is actually a story that arose out of one of the main characters of Painted Black.  I also had three short mysteries published.  They are my Evelyn A. Archer stories which I call my cynical bitch mini-mysteries.  An essay about one of the street youth I knew in Chicago is being published in the February issue of Ascent Aspirations.
Give a short description of your book and where we may find it.
Painted Black is a suspense novel that twists the reality of Chicago's homeless community with murder, corporate greed, and a bizarre collection of freeze-dried corpses. (Kindle edition ASIN: B006QYPCPC ) Barnes & Noble (epub) edition: BN ID: 2940013794818)
A homeless man in a glass coffin, that's all Jo Sullivan was looking for, some new material for her column in Winds of Change, a weekly rag willing to dust the dirt off the seamier side of Chicago.  But after she nearly turns a street kid into a hood ornament, the tip dropped by a fifteen year old prostitute starts to look more like a front page two inch headline.  When the young girl disappears, her friend Chris hints of a room filled with corpses on display like an exhibit at a wax museum, and Jo and Chris team up to uncover the truth behind Sloan and Whiteside's funeral home.
10% of the author profits from Painted Black will be donated to homeless services, including The Night Ministry in Chicago, in appreciation for the work they do in helping the homeless. I encourage anyone who reads my books to also support any program working to eliminate homelessness.
The short stories were mostly in print magazines and are no longer available.  I did re-release Red Light, Green Light ( Kindle edition ASIN: B004XJ4MI0 ) (Smashwords ISBN: 978-1-4580-9102-4) and another short story, Peeling the Onion, (Kindle ASIN: B004V04MK4) (Smashwords ISBN: 978-1-4581-9767-2) as e-books.  In addition, I compiled the complete set of Evelyn A. Archer stories, including the three that were published. That book, Weeping Widows (Kindle ASIN: B005D9RH9K) (Smashwords ISBN: 978-1-4661-1956-7) is also available for download.
Links to the above can also be found on my website
How do you come up with the names of places and characters in your books?  

The place was easy.  Chicago is such a vibrant, gritty city it actually feels like a character in Painted Black.  The city is teeming with a life that energizes and practically demands attention.  Character names are usually just a question of brainstorming.  Sometimes they come to me fully formed in my head, other times I might just start writing possibilities down until it sounds right.  For incidental characters that the reader isn't going to spend much time with, I might try searching for unusual (but too unusual) last names in a phone directory and then add first names that give the whole a certain kind of rhythm or feel so that you get a sense of what kind of person they are just from their name.  I want to populate my stories with a wide diversity of cultures and ethnic characters to reflect the melting pot a big city really is.
How did you develop the character of your protagonist in this book?  
Jo Sullivan was born out of my own metamorphosis of awakening to the wider world.  She starts out as this flawed character just trying to get on with her life, dealing (or in reality, not dealing) with her own dark past by toughing it out.  Then she has this encounter with a 15 year old prostitute and something about the girl releases this damn of awareness in Jo that she is no longer able to ignore.  She starts looking outside herself, really looking at what's out there, and turns her anger at what's screwed up in own life into energy to try to right the injustices of others. 
What about an antagonist…is there a unique “bad guy” or a recurring nemesis of any kind? 
There are two, actually.  Sidney Cole plays the largest role in the sense that he is on scene the most.  Several of the chapters are actually told from his point of view.  He is in his own way as flawed as Jo and the kids she's trying to help, but his past has warped him so much that he is trapped in his own sick world.  He does what Philip Quinlan tells him to only because he wants to be left alone and Quinlan gives him that freedom in exchange for performing certain tasks.  Quinlan is the more bone chilling character because he sees nothing wrong with anything he does.  He's a businessman in his mind, an entrepreneur, nothing more.  He does what he feels he must to achieve his goals, no matter who it hurts.
What’s your favorite thing about your book?
I really feel the book gives the reader a good feel for what it's like to be homeless on the streets of Chicago.  To me, it is the street characters that give it the most life.  I think that is because they are based loosely on people I actually knew when I was volunteering there.  One of the most base impressions my experience gave me is that these people are largely invisible to the rest of society, which is even worse in some ways than being despised.  I want to give the homeless a personhood of a sort, because so often they are treated as less than that.
How is writing in the genre you write, different than other genre?
I don’t really think it is.  All the elements are the same, you need conflict, great characters, smooth writing, beginning, middle, end.  The only difference is you need some mysterious or suspenseful element as your main conflict.  And even that isn't really any different--it's just called "tension" in other books.  If there is no tension, no risk to the characters of some kind, then why would the reader care about what happens?
Why and when did you begin writing?
I've been writing since I was a kid.  I remember even binding a small book using cardboard, construction paper and a typewriter when I was in junior high.  I even chose not to go to college because I knew I wanted to be a writer and what did a writer need with a college degree?  I know better, now, but to my 17-year-old mind it made sense at the time.  I wrote all through my marriage and that was when I started submitting things.  I concentrated on novels at first, but nothing worked until I started writing and submitting a few short stories.  Getting a few of those accepted--for pay even!--gave me the confidence I needed to keep working on my novels.
As an inspiration for Painted Black, the Jo Sullivan series I am working on now, I spent twice a week volunteering with Chicago’s homeless, youth in particular, and got to know a few on a personal level that made me want to become a voice for them. My first manuscript in this series was rejected at least 100 times before I finally gave up and moved on to Painted Black. It may someday come back as a prequel, though obviously rewritten so it is as good as my recent work. 
If there is one unifying theme to my work now, it is an attempt to look the real world in the face, the good and the bad, and keep going no matter what.  Like the character in one of my short stories says, “It’s how you deal with the darkness that counts.”
What is your writing schedule?
Writing time spent on my fiction is sporadic, at best.  I have a freelance business and a part time job that take a lot of my time to make ends meet.  Freelance writing I treat mostly like a business, planning the 8-5 work day to fit in writing or researching or talking to clients as needed to meet deadlines.  I do have two writer's groups that I belong to which makes me accountable to have new fiction to bring to them every two weeks.  We meet every other weekend, so at the very least my goal is to spend the odd weekend concentrating on fiction only.
What projects are you working on now, or plan for the future?
I am working on the second novel in the series, Bend me, Shape Me.  It stars Jo and all of her friends like Painted Black, but brings in a new street kid, Star Ramirez.  This book addresses another common problem found on the streets, mental illness.  Snow, who is bi-polar, believes the psychiatrist treating her brother is trying to harm him in some way.  The suspense comes in the reader not knowing if her allegations are true and the brother does need saving, or if it actually Snow who needs to be saved from her own delusions.
I recently made a scary career move to jumpstart my freelance writing business again.  I've worked on several projects, most of them editing or ghostwriting fiction, but also did editing on a business book and wrote some Outlook how-to articles for a website.
What kind of advice or tips to you have for someone who wants to write and get published?
It's a cliché, but the best thing to do is keep writing.  I had no formal training and some of the stuff I churned out in the beginning, stuff that I thought was so good, is so much more flawed than the work I produce now.  You will learn by doing even if you can't afford classes somewhere.  As for publishing, I'll be honest and say that I think it is mostly a waste of time to submit to markets that pay nothing--unless, that is, it is a publication that has a reputation that attaches a prestige to your acceptance by them.  The only other advantage to having your things published without payment is that it gives you samples to show potential clients or editors.  It is a way to showcase that you write well, and that is the most important step to getting published--write well!
Are there any other comments, advice or tips that you would give to beginning writers?
Join a writer's group.  Take your time, though, and find one that works right for what you need.  You want a group that will actually critique your work, not just tear it down or pat you on the back.  They should also have the same goals as you.  If you're writing because you want to get published, it's not at all helpful to be part of a group where most people mainly write because they love it and don’t really care if they get published or not.
What do you do when you are not writing? 
When I'm not writing, I am spending a lot of time promoting my writing, or looking for freelance opportunities online.  As far as a personal life goes, it's kind of dull when you think about it.  I have a dog named Sophie that I adopted who is great company and she keeps taking me on walks or to dog parks.  Most of my family lives in Illinois so I usually end up relying on friends to spend holidays with since I don’t' get to fly back home very often.  I have two grown sons.  One is a TSA agent at an airport and one works for Homeland security, so they are great resources for research when I need that kind of info.  They are very careful about not getting away any national secrets though, lol.
What “Made It” moments have you experienced in life?
The first moment was the acceptance of my first ever acceptance.  I was a divorced woman trying to scrape pennies together and start a writing business when I didn't really know what I was doing.  I submitted a literary short story to a contest in Iowa Woman titled "The Nest" that had a very personal theme for me.  When they called to tell me I had won honorable mention and would be published in their next issue, it was exactly the dose of self confidence I needed to believe in myself and encouragement to keep writing.  To this day, when I read the story again it brings tears to my eyes.

You can visit my other blog at: that features a preview to my new book that will be released in 2012, Traveling a Rocky Road with Love, Faith and Guts.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Prolific Short Story Author, Bobbie Shafer, Shares Her New Book, Loves Golden Dream Legend of Eagle Creek

I’m a 72 year old wife, mother, grandmother, animal lover, and write. I live in the lovely small community of Troup, Texas with the enormous population of 1949. We have one stop sign and giving directions to out-of-towners is easy. I have a husband, four children, three grandchildren, a stepson, stepdaughter-in-law, and step grandson. In my almost backyard I have a dozen chickens, a mama goat and her twin sons, a large golden something-or-other dog, and in and out of the house twelve stray cat, we adopted, come and go. My oldest daughter, Connie lives a few feet away and I baby-sit Pistol, her half-wiener, half Boston terrier while she works. When I’m not waiting on my husband, feeding animals, cooking, doing chores, and a bajillion other things,
Tell us about the genre of your work.
I write in an assortment of genres. I love fantasy, Y/A, middle school, contemporary, and historical. They all have an escape mode in their story line which takes me and the readers to places out of the ordinary. Although I love fantasy genre, I find myself drawn to historical.
Why did you choose this genre?
Traveling across the earth and even into outer space is normal these days, but I like the thought of time-travel and for me writing in the historical genre takes you to an era that is extinct. Be it comedy like “The Importance of Being Ernest, tragedy “The Life of Ann Bolyn” or a drama/adventure/romance like Loves Golden Dream, you can ride in a carriage, dress in vintage, walk a dusty road, or climb the spiral staircase of a mansion. It’s simply visiting the past for a few pages.
What are some of your books, stories that have been published?
I have published over 350 short stories and articles in magazines. Some magazines that accepted my work is Grit, OutSmart, Looking Back, Good Old Days, Small Farmer’s Journal, Farm and Ranch Living, BackYard Living, Texas Gardener, Florida Gardener, Venture Inward, Country Extra, Country, Hobby Farms, Fate, Rural Heritage, Country Living, BackHome, and Backwoods Home, to mention a few.
My book is being published titled, Loves Golden Dream Legend of Eagle Creek, and I have three stories that will appear in holiday anthologies in 2011 and 2012.
Can you tell us more about your books?
Loves Golden Dream is about twenty year old Aimee McKay, who against her father ‘s advice ran off with Marcus Alexander who stole her inheritance and inherited jewels, abused her cruelty and kept her locked up when he was off drinking and gambling. Aimee manages to escape, buy a ticket on a doomed voyage and sets off to begin a new life. The S.S. Central America runs into a hurricane and is damaged beyond repair. As the women and children are lowered into the lifeboats, a fellow passenger Aimee has befriended forces his gold filled money belt and carpet bag into her hand as he realized he would not survive due to his age and ill health.
Aimee arrives safety on shore, disguises herself as a man and starts westward. The story moves quickly along and rebellion, remorse, and repentance intertwine to keep readers guessing. The appearance of a fellow passenger, Lucas Chase, the discovery of slaves hiding on the property of Eagle Creek that Aimee buys, and the fear of Marcus Alexander finding her, are only a few of the obstacles that Aimee must face. Fate deals her a staggering blow in her first bout with love. Can fate give her the strength to find her dream.
Loves Golden Dream ISBN 10-14662 16239 is available from
book store,
the e-book is available from
Legend of Eagle Creek will be published in the spring of 2012. The anthologies are in the process of publication.
How do you come up with the names of places and characters in your books?
The names of places I write about comes from familiar setting and what I perceive of the location. The nearest town to Eagle Creek is Sycamore Grove. Eagle Creek sounds romantic and the area had previously been Indian land and Eagle Creek sounds right somehow. Sycamore Grove was names from a large sycamore tree that grows in my backyard. The names have to fit into the setting, era, and fit the location.
How did you develop the character of your protagonist in this book?
As an avid reader, I got tired of reading about the perfect, patience, hero or about the hero that kidnapped, took advantage of.., and still stood out as the hero. I wanted my protagonist to be human, with frailties, doubts, and someone we all know. I took part of the best of the best men I’ve know, and allowed some of their faults and shortcomings to make him believable.
What about an antagonist…is there a unique “bad guy” or a recurring nemesis of any kind?
Eagle Creek is the setting of all the stories in the series, Secrets of Eagle Creek. Each book is set in a different era, mid-1800’s, turn of the century 1903, and the third will be at the end of the Korean War. Due to the span of time, no one “bad guy” is the antagonist. The nemesis changes just as life and times changes, but in every generation there are challenges to meet, obstacles to overcome, and problems to solve.
What’s your favorite thing about your book?
I wanted Aimee to be a woman of strength, independence, and at the same time have the gentleness of the times. I like the fact that Aimee never gives up, despite her challenges, and that she’s not too proud to accept the help of her friends.
How is writing in the genre you write, different than other genre?
Historical genre is difference to me because I like the picture to be accurate. I don’t want to see a painting of a southern belle wearing a wrist watch, or seeing a western movie and seeing a jet stream in the cloudless sky of the background. Historical writing demands research, research, research in order to tell an accurate story.
Why and when did you begin writing?
I contribute my writing all the way back to my childhood. My parents and grandparents were avid readers and read me books and told me made-up stories from my earliest memories. Sometimes when I couldn’t get to sleep I would make up my own stories until I passed out. In school I loved writing enjoyed history, literature, and English as much of the homework and test were essays and I did love to write. Life in general didn’t give me much time to write until I retired and I’m making up for it now.
What is your writing schedule?
I keep telling myself that I’m going to take one entire day off and not write a word…or even turn on the computer. That’s a joke. I write every single day. Never less than an hour or two and more often than not three to five hours. I can’t help it. My characters have things to say and do and places to go and they are very insistent.
What projects are you working on now, or plan for the future?
At the moment I am writing book three of the series, Miracle at Sycamore Grove. The setting is Eagle Creek, of course, but the time in at the end of the Korean War and our heroin is Virginia Cash, (Ginny), mother of two small children and wife of a serviceman who is missing in action.
What kind of advice or tips to you have for someone who wants to write and get published?
Don’t let that pen or pencil get too far away. Join a writers groups  I write. where other aspiring writers and experienced authors can support and assist you. Write something everyday whether you spend five minutes or five hours, keep it a must. Write it, edit it over and over and over and submit that sucker until your accepted. If you are determined and dedicated, nothing is a good enough excuse to give up. Age is immaterial, time can be found, and dedication must be fed.

Are there any other comments, advice or tips that you would give to beginning writers? 

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t think your question is stupid. There is no stupid questions, just questions you don’t have the answer to. 

What do you do when you are not writing?

When I’m not writing, I’m spending time with my family, but I tell them…watch what you say …it might show up in my next story.  

What “Made It” moments have you experienced in life? 

I felt I “made it” when my children were born, when I married my present husband, when my stories were published in magazines, and when Marie McGaha notified me she wanted to publish my books. Those ‘made it” moments were personal triumphs but I’ll know I “made it” when I’m allowed through the Golden Gates of heaven.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Visit with Jill Starishevsky, Author of My Body Belongs to Me

Jill tell us about yourself and why you wrote this book.

I am a prosecutor of child abuse and sex crimes in New York City and the mother of three little girls.  I have been prosecuting sex crimes for almost 15 years and work hard to keep my work life separate from my home life.
Tell us about the genre of your work. 
I wrote a children's book, My Body Belongs to Me, to teach children to tell a parent or teacher if someone is touching them inappropriately.  The book is geared toward 3-8 year olds and has simple text with colorful pictures.
Why did you choose this genre?
I chose to write a children's book because through my work, I continuously encountered children who had been sexually abused for long periods of time and did not tell anyone.  I felt that a book with a simple message to tell someone would go a long way in keeping children safe from sexual abuse.
What ages do you direct your book?
This book is geared toward 3-8 year olds.
My Body Belongs to Me ISBN: 0982121601 can be purchased on Barnes & Noble, on Amazon and at
Does your book have a teaching objective?  If so, what is it?
Yes, the purpose of the book is to teach children that their bodies are private and if someone touches them inappropriately, they should tell a parent or teacher right away.
How do you come up with the names of places and characters in your books?
I intentionally avoided giving the character a name in the book.  In fact, there is no indication of the gender of the child.  Often, boys identify it being a boy and girls identify it as a girl.
What is your favorite thing about your book?
My favorite thing about My Body Belongs to Me is that there is a section in the back called Suggestions for the Storyteller.  This section walks the reader through the discussion that should occur after the book is read.
Is your book illustrated?  If so, would you tell us by whom, and if you worked with an illustrator, can you discuss that experience?
The book has colorful illustrations created by Sara Muller.  This was Sara's first experience creating illustrations for a children's book and there is a sweetness to each one.  The expression on the child's face perfectly amplifies the story.
How is writing in the genre you write, different than other genre?
The genre in which I write is different than others in that there is usually a message involving safety. 
Are there any problems in getting children’s’ books published? 
I self-published My Body Belongs to Me and am now working with an agent to have it picked up by a larger publisher.  There is a good demand to have the book translated into other languages as well.
Why and when did you begin writing?
I began writing when my daughter was almost three years old.  I wanted to have a discussion with her about "good touch/bad touch".  I was not quite sure what to say so I sought out a book to help me along the way.  I was not able to find a book that was age appropriate so I ultimately created one.
What is your writing schedule?
I wrote at night when my children were sleeping. 
What projects are you working on now, or plan for the future?I had a meeting today to discuss my next children's book which will be one involving keeping children safe on the internet.
What kind of advice or tips to you have for someone who wants to write and get published?
Start writing and show your work to as many people as you can and solicit their honest feedback.  Sometimes writers get so close to their work, they can no longer view it objectively.
What do you do when you are not writing? 
When I am not writing a book, I am writing poems for The Poem Lady.  The Poem Lady is a website where people can request customized poems for the special occasions in their life.
What “Made It” moments have you experienced in life?
In April of this past year, I had the honor of appearing on The Oprah Winfrey Show to discuss what motivated me to write My Body Belongs to Me.  It was an incredible experience and certainly gave me that "Made it" feeling.  In addition to meeting one of the most inspiring women in the world, I was able to share the message of My Body Belongs to Me with an international audience.  It was tremendously rewarding and a moment I will never forget.
Learn more about Jill and her work at: 
Twitter: @SafetyStar
Quote from a Review:
"...In only 19 sentences, this simple book will empower children while promoting open communication". - School Library Journal

Monday, February 20, 2012

Kathi Holmes Inspires Her Readers with Her Book, I Stand With Courage: One Woman’s Journey to Conquer Paralysis

Kathi tell us a little about your background. 
After nearly fifteen years of diligently completing one class at a time, I graduated from Metropolitan State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree.  I began with a focus on counseling, conducting several support groups, later switching to a communications major. During that time I worked either full or part time while raising my family. The tenacity I demonstrated was a good role model for my children and helped me keep the focus on my book.  

Before retiring, I had a lengthy career in advertising, marketing and publishing; working at both major Twin Cities newspapers, marketing for senior-housing communities, and publishing a residential real estate trade publication. During this time I wrote for both business and pleasure.  

Why did you choose this genre?
In 2008 I suffered spinal cord damage and became paralyzed. While I was confined to a rehab center my husband, Charlie, was in and out of hospitals. He had quadruple bypass surgery followed by complications and a below the knee amputation due to a diabetic infection. We were both alone in our medical quagmires. 

The horrendous medical problems my husband and I incurred that year gave me the fuel for my book. Family, friends, and acquaintances all marveled at my recovery from paralysis. I heard comments like, “it’s a miracle,” “you are an inspiration to me,” “how did it happen?” I wanted to share my personal life experience as a message of hope for others trying to overcome challenges. I experienced a remarkable transformation when I was diagnosed with a below the waist paralysis and told I would be living with paralysis the remainder of my life. Through acceptance, courage, faith and determination I am now walking with just a cane. I hope to inspire others to rise above their affliction whether it is mental or physical. I have always loved to encourage and inspire others to be the best they can be. Now I am doing that through my book, I Stand With Courage: One Woman’s Journey to Conquer Paralysis. 

How is writing in the genre you write, different than other genre?
In some ways, writing fiction is easier than non-fiction. With fiction you can expand your reader’s reality in any way you choose. It’s like a mysterious journey through the woods. When you come to a fork in the path you can choose the familiar or venture into unknown territory. Fiction allows the reader to escape into the world of the author. Non-fiction brings “real life” to the reader. Non-fiction must stick to the facts. Writing a memoir or about a personal experience is even harder. It challenges your memory and word by word makes you relive your life from the outside in. While enlightening, it’s often difficult to reach inside yourself. Over and over you must ask yourself, “How did I feel?” “What was I thinking?” “Why did I respond in that manner?” It is, however, therapeutic.   

What are some of your books, stories that have been published?
I have written both for business and pleasure, writing my first play for the fourth grade paper sale. I have had non-fiction articles published on topics covering accepting breast cancer and lifestyles and traditions. “I Stand With Courage” is my first book. 

Can you tell us more about your book, and where we may find it?
I Stand With Courage: One Woman’s Journey to Conquer Paralysis is available by ordering it at your local bookseller,,, or, for a signed copy, at my website: . ISBN: 978-1-4624-0022-5. It is also available for Kindle or Nook.

The description on the book cover describes this book very concisely.  

Was it a miracle, God-given determination, or both, that lifted Kathi from the paralysis that blindsided her, confining her to a wheelchair? No one wants to face such a life-changing health crisis, but Kathi takes us on her journey of creating a new life with a disability. With a husband also hospitalized, she is alone in her battle. A rehab center becomes her home while she searches for strength of body—and mind. See how acceptance, determination, and courage can overcome the challenges of everyday life. Reading about her progress, you realize she is just like you—an ordinary person who accepts and achieves the challenge to accomplish extraordinary feats, inspiring us by her power of faith and determination. 

Where do you get your ideas for writing?   

Having written mostly non-fiction my ideas come from my life experiences. 

What is your favorite thing about your book?
It demonstrates how ordinary women can conquer extraordinary challenges.
Why and when did you begin writing?
It seems I have always gravitated toward writing. I write with no expectation in mind, just a passion for writing and honing my skill.
Is there any one person who had a big influence on you or encouraged you to write? 
After encouraging a friend and former teacher to begin teaching a writing class, the tables turned and she became my coach, helping me to think outside the box.
However, I must admit, I would not have a book if it weren’t for my paralysis and becoming a first time grandmother. I wanted to be a “proper” grandmother. That truly inspired my determination and quest for mobility. It’s amazing how little tugs at your heart can make a major impact on your life.
What is your writing schedule?  What atmosphere do you need to write?
All my writing is done on my computer. An idea will come to me – usually in the morning – and I will key in notes. If I get excited about the topic I will continue to write on that subject; often turning to look outside and find the sun has already gone down. I am always alert to new story ideas.
What projects are you working on now, or plan for the future?
I would like to challenge myself with some humorous short stories – a little embellished non-fiction. In an effort to market my book, I will be creating a blog on my website and delving into speaking to groups about challenging themselves to be the best they can be.  
What kind of advice or tips do you have for someone who wants to write and be published?  

Edit. Edit. Edit.  Use a good editor. Self-publishing is not a sin. Research publishers and know exactly what you will be receiving for your payment. 

Are there any other comments, advice or tips that you would give to beginning writers? 

Writing is a process. The more you write the better you get. If you love it, keep writing and learning.  I believe everyone should write. I encourage people to write, whether it is your own book, journal, memoir or cookbook. It doesn’t matter whether you publish it or not. What does matter is that you leave a legacy for your family so that they may know who you are. Now that I am retired and have more time, I have so many questions I would like to ask my mother if she were alive.  

What do you do when you are not writing?  
Having spent much of my time working and raising kids I never read much. Now that I am retired I have become an avid reader of mysteries, intrigue, inspirational books and stimulating biographies or autobiographies. I read magazines, newspapers and just about any article that lands in front of me. Scrapbooking and card making is relaxing – just like when I was in kindergarten. I relish family times, especially with my granddaughters. Travel has been a passion, although we don’t do as much traveling as we did before my husband and I became handicapped. 

Include anything else you may wish to add.  
To all you writers (and those with dreams): Go for it. Why not?
What “Made It” moments have you experienced in life?  
1) Starting a business from scratch and leading it to success. This increased my confidence ten-fold.  
2) Surviving several life threatening health challenges. I am now determined to live as full a life as I can.
3) Becoming a published author. The process was often taxing, but sharing hope with others as well as leaving an inspirational legacy for my grandchildren is well worth it.
I close with a quote from my book, “None of us knows what the future holds for us. May we all be blessed with the courage, determination, and faith to conquer the challenges.”